Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Everybody Cries

2007 - Plant and Rain on Window
Everything's changing.
Half a century ago, also in the movies, men would hardly show themselves cry. It usually took a certain degree of tragedy for a man to cry. Even then - take Henry Fonda - the most beautiful melancholic eyes would often substitute tears.

The trends have drastically changed.
In terms of acting, the new techniques hit directly at a performer's emotional side. It's almost everyday at the Lee Strasberg Institute I could witness, during the pre-class warm-up and relaxation exercises, students of all genders and sizes burst out crying. Admittedly, a tear or two would at times well up my eye too, albeit with more of an Asiatic composedness. But there is where I fully understood that when you see an actor cry in a movie and do it well, he's probably crying for real; no onions or chemical stuff under their eyes to produce tears; at least, not anymore.

But what about crying off the stage?
That is no unusual show either.
Crying isn't a bad habit per se, but we all have to admit that the world have sissied up considerably as of late. We're maybe more technologically and scientifically advanced, but it seems that our emotional balance is much less enduring. We are rope-walking on the edge of an outbreak - hopefully not a breakdown just yet.

Here are some notable weepers:

- Barack Obama over his grandmother.
- Mickey Mouse over Walt Disney.
- Sinead O'Connor in her video of Nothing Compares To You.
- Natalie Portman in almost every movie she acted in.
- Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler (and probably after his botox operation twenty years ago).
- Jean Claude Van Damme in many interviews.
- Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula.
- Christian Bale at the MTV Movie Awards. 

Do you vent your frustration weeping? Tu Quoque?



  1. There were very rare moments when I would witness the men in my life cry. I on the other hand am quite emotional and as of late it doesn't take much to start the waterworks.

    Interesting observations in this post both on the stage and off. I think the outbreak you speak of goes along with the changes this year in particular out in the universe. Not to get all new agey but I for one feel a heaviness and uneasiness in my soul that wasn't there before.

    Having said all that I think it is better to let the tears out than hold them in. Pent up emotion can take a toll on our physical being.

    PS . . . Love the image you used in this post! :)

  2. I find that as you grow older you cry more easily. Just wait until I'm in my coffin - can a corpse drown?

  3. I wish I could cry genuine tears of frustration—especially about alligator tears, which infuriate me! Much of the reason my job is so impossible now is that the person who was previously doing the thankless, soulless part of the word was able (and more than willing) to cry about it to the boss...

  4. When my Dad cried on the phone a few months ago, that really affected me. A good cry can act like therapy. Pop in appropriate movie, get tissues ... catharsis.

  5. Cathy,
    I agree, venting is necessary, no matter whether it's through crying, running, punching a pillow, and whatnot. Just don't kill and harm :)
    So what do you think your uneasiness is due to?

    I don't think a corpse can drown. But it can swell up and come back afloat.

    I think more than half the world cries alligator tears.
    Don't let that infuriate you...

    A cry can be cathartic indeed.
    Let me not tell you me at the end of The Bridges of Madison County the first time I saw the movie, about 15 years ago.

  6. I seem to cry more at movies and books than I do at real life, even though there are some cry-worthy moments in life. I usually hide with silence. I guess I'd be a horrible actress!

  7. Speaking of singing in the shower (your Tip of the Every-Other-Day), I hope you've seen "To Rome with Love"!

  8. I have to admit, I'm a weeper. Crying is a good outlet for me, but my problem used to me that I couldn't really control it in public-- which I don't like, as tears generally make others uncomfortable. I'm proud of myself, though-- a situation came up the other day that, at one time, would have had me hysterical in the bathroom. But took several (hundred) deep breaths and waited til I got home to let myself shed a couple tears.

    I've seen my husband cry-- no, shed one tear-- about twice, and his mother has told me that she's NEVER seen his dad cry, ever. I think it's amazing how some people just don't cry.

    1. Heather,
      I've always thought that the difference between movies/books and real life is very thin!
      Oh, you wouldn't necessarily be a bad actress, don't worry!

      Yes, I've seen "To Rome with Love". I absolutely love Woody Allen, and am a big fan. But to my humble opinion, hoping not to offend anybody, that movie sucked. The Italian actors were absurdly lame, and the movie itself was nothing like "Midnight in Paris"!
      Afraid I didn't like it that much, did I? :)

      Hmm, yea, I can see why the person sitting with you at the restaurant might be embarrassed... It's not Meg Ryan's fake orgasm, but still... :)
      Crying is not a bad thing though. We all need to cry sometimes.

  9. Clarke Cable shedding some manly tears when his little girl dies in Gone with the Wind! Now that took guts to do in such a film and in such an era! Well for me anyway!

    Oh crying. If I'm not weeping copiously every 2 minutes then there's something very wrong with me!

    Take care

  10. Hi Jay,
    In your list, are these famous people recurrent weepers? I don't recall seeing Obama cry/weep before. Girls cry far more easily than guys so I was not surprised to see Sinead or Natalie in this list. I cry out of frustration or when I see a sappy movie ;) It's in our DNA. I love your pic. Did you take it? I think it's appropriate to the post about crying (as in the sky is crying) LOL!

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    1. Jennifer,
      I agree, what Clarke Gable did was brave; the times were not ripe yet back then!
      Hmm, so you are a weeper, are you?

      I saw Obama cry at least twice. One of those times, his wife was sitting next to him and she gave him a chilling look that everybody noticed. She looked slightly pissed off at him!
      Yes, I took the picture, thanks!

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  12. I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. You cite some people who have cried. In public. Some fairly strong public figures/role models. You also talk about your experiences in class and how people are crying on a daily basis. And then you talk about crying in your life, due to...well...life.

    I don't think the world has "sissied" up as you say. After all laughter and tears come from the same exact place inside. They just physically manifest themselves in different ways. To me crying is one of the marks of a strong person. In fact any brave show of emotion is a mark of a strong person. Let them cry, let them laugh, let them rage.

    I'm actually more concerned with what you said about your studies. Too often schools try to "strip us down." I'm sure you've heard that phrase. They try to get in and find what makes us tick. I've personally been witness to that causing much more harm than good. I've seen people get stuck inside themselves and then spend far too much energy getting back out. Teachers aren't psychologist. They're teachers. Guides. Crying isn't a sign of good acting, or talent, or any of that. If people are crying on a daily basis I would almost question what is going on. That shouldn't be a goal, or an end to a process. After all it's called a process for a reason. One of the biggest lessons I learned from my studio is look for the truth. Whatever you do on stage is something your character would do. Be it crying, laughing, dancing, doing a hand stand. So just be real and don't force emotions because that is what you think a teacher wants.

    Then again, if it is helping you in your process, fantastic! But be wary of the tear trap that actors can fall into.

    1. Patrick,
      Most definitely, I cite some people who have cried. I write: "Everything's changing." Once, people wouldn't cry as much as they do today.
      Then I say that characters in movies cry more than they used to in the past. And then, in a shorter paragraph, I state that even in real life people cry more than in the past.
      I honestly thought that was I was trying to say was clear :)

      Then I also said, "I don't think crying is a bad thing per se", so I agree with you on this one.
      But I believe that the world has "sissied up", and let me now try to explain why.
      Once upon a time (I'm referring to 50, 70, 100 years ago) we used to vent our frustration very physically. WE had to work in the fields, we could only walk to school, and sometimes in the rain, or snow. We had to chop woods for the fire, paint the walls. Internet didn't exist, and we'd find pleasure in a walk, a swim, a run down the hill. As badly as things might have been going for us back then, being so physical was a way indeed to get something heavy off our back.
      Now, technology has replaced all that. We're no longer as physical as we used to be. We don't even go up or down the stairs anymore.
      Once we could scream en plein air, and vent our frustration that way. If we do that now, in the best scenario people will look at us funny.
      So what's left? Crying. Crying and crying our heart out because we have nothing else left.
      I never said that crying is the mark of a weak person. I just implied that we should be more balanced.
      Then I also implied that having to necessarily cry out loud, with tears and all the crying drama for a role might not necessarily be the best choice: an option can be crying without the tears, the sobbing and moaning. Crying inside, which is what some people do and which is, sometimes, in terms of delivering the heaviness of our emotions to an audience, much, much, much more effective. But that, of course, depends on the character, the context, etc.

    2. In answer to your last paragraph, I don't really think school try to strip us down. Of course, they try to prove that their method is better than other methods, but it takes a good deal of a brainwashed mind to believe that a method is better than another.
      Other than this, I believe they try to teach us to the best of their skills that acting is, first and foremost, an inner process. We're dealing with complexes, neurosis, dreams, emotions, feelings when we act, all things which belong to the soul first and are only later actualized into a physical reaction.
      This is what an actor has to deal with.

      Our teachers are not trying to strip us down. They are not supposed to be psychologists either. But you, my dear Patrick, if you want to be an actor, or a good one at least, you have to be a bit of a psychologist. You have to take your responsibility, sit yourself down, and study a bit of something that is not just strictly related to acting, but to dream interpretation, psychiatry and psychology in the strictest sense.
      If an actor breaks down, if an actor can't sustain the emotional impact of what he or she does, then they should change hobby because he that thinks that playing Hamlet or Othello will make him feel at peace with his soul is an utter fool. Or maybe not much of a good actor.

      If people are crying on a daily basis, what is going on becomes more clear as soon as you start analyzing the situation.
      If an actor breaks down, it means he had no emotional control whatsoever over what they were doing. So they should just do something else.

      When I mentioned "crying" at the Lee Strasberg I was not talking about acting anyway. I was talking about the warm-up and relaxation exercises the actors in there do before each acting class. These exercises don't teach you to act. They teach you to get to know yourself.
      There are very precise explanations why people tend to start crying during certain physical and mental conditions. It's not really forcing emotions. And if we force emotions, I agree with you, we're doing it the wrong way.

      Thank you so much for your feedback.